How to interpret these Torrey records

+5 votes

I found these adjacent entries in Torrey (Volume 2, p. 781):

HOLMES, Nathaniel (John) & 1/wf Sarah [WISWALL?] (1643-); by [1666]; Plymouth {Parker (,9) 268; Plymouth (Davis) 242; Holmes (,3) 6; Reg. 40:59, 58:33}  HOLMES, Nathaniel (1639-1713) & 2/wf Patience TOPLIFF (1644-1697); 27 Mar 1667; Dorchester/Roxbury (David Jones will); {Dorchester Ch. Rec. 11; Reg. 5:401, 466, 58:24, 118; Waldo Gen. 1:64-5; Holmes (,3) 6; Topliff (1906); Parker (,9) 268}

Do these refer to the same person? What does the "(John)" mean after the first "HOLMES, Nathaniel", that John is his father or to distinguish him from the man in the next entry? I read the introduction to Torrey but did not see anything that helped.

According to a different source (The Descendants of George Holmes of Roxbury 1594-1908, pp. 6-7), it sounds like it's the same Nathaniel Holmes:

Nathaniel’ Holmes (George‘), bricklayer, was born in Roxbury, Feb. 1, 1639, and died there in 1711, probably in February, as his will was proved March 12, 1712.

He married first, Sarah Wiswall, daughter of Thomas Wis wall of Dorchester. (Hist. of Dorchester, p. 139, and Vviswall Gen., p. 1.) She was baptized 12 mo., 1642-3. " She was borne the 19"‘ day of the same mo: beinge the Lords Daye in the eaveninge about sunne setinge.” (Dorchester Church Records, p. 155.) No date of her marriage or death has been found. He married second, in Dorchester, by Capt. Roger Clap, Mar. 27, 1667, Patience Toplifl‘e, born in Dorchester in July, 1644, and died in Roxbury, Mar. 11, 1696, youngest daughter of Clement and Sarah Toplilfe.

My question is less about Nathaniel Holmes, however, than how to interpret Torrey.

WikiTree profile: Nathaniel Holmes
in Genealogy Help by Ellen Spertus G2G6 (7.4k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
It looks like Torrey may have  thought these probably were the same man, but wasn't very confident. And he was aware that the first wife is identified as Wiswall (he cites the Holmes book), but  apparently he didn't know of evidence for that -- or thought the evidence was very weak. I can't say why he inserted that parenthetical "John."

Have you investigated all of the sources he cited?

I'm adding the pgm tag to get the attention of folks who are most knowledgable about early New England.

I hadn't realized it when I posted my question, but Holmes (3) is The Descendants of George Holmes of Roxbury 1594-1908.

Thanks for your help and for improving the tags.

I am only going to make general comments that might have some bearing.  I have a Pastor William Wiswall 1626-1670 that I know little about, except that I have him married to Mary Atwood (Wood) in about 1668 in Plymouth. Perhaps Thomas was his brother, as dates would work Then on April 27, 1970, in West Peabody, Essex County, Massachsetts Colony, I have Mary  marrying Reverend John Holmes with children Mary, Joseph and Isaac. Her third husband was Maj. William Holmes, with children Israel, Ephraim, and Hezakiah.After John Holmes dies, I believe she was known as the widow Wiswall

3 Answers

+3 votes
I think he is expressing some doubt that they are the same person.

Torrey is essentially an uncritical gathering of sources and in my mind is never a source itself. It is a guide to finding sources. In these cases, I would expect you have to examine all of the underlying sources he gives to understand the problem. Really the list isn’t that long and I expect they are all obtainable.
by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (233k points)
+3 votes

Here is a list of sources Torrey used: Torrey's Sources. This Free-Space page doesn't have links to all of his sources, but all the titles are listed.

One of the sources Torrey uses is simply shown as "Reg." This is very cryptic, but it means the New England Genealogical and Historical Register, followed by the volume and page number.

The graphic you posted in your G2G post is being cut off by G2G. To see the entire Torrey reference, click on the graphic, which will open the complete graphic in your web browser. The sources used by Torrey are listed between the squiggly brackets {}.

by Rick Pierpont G2G6 Pilot (120k points)
edited by Rick Pierpont
+4 votes
When I was a newbie with this sourcing business, I was happily accepting Torrey as a definite source. Then, thanks to WikiTree I was educated that I needed to check all the sources he listed to evaluate the data - and use that source, not Torrey, as the actual data source.

One problem not evident in the example given here, is that in ancestry,com, its Database "New England Marriages prior to 1700"  IS Torrey, but with all the sources stripped out, so that it seems it is a source itself.
by Jim Parish G2G6 Pilot (160k points)
One of the many insidious features of

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